Alan Price, head of employment law at Peninsula HR, advises Business Advice readers on the benefits of introducing an employee performance review system into the workplace.
Appraisals are often seen as an unnecessary management tool but, on the contrary, they are extremely useful to have in place. Appraisals are used to review employee performance over a specific period of time, usually quarterly, half-yearly or yearly.
They are beneficial to both the employer and employee as they provide a forum where both parties can raise issues or concerns, and ensure that an employee remains engaged in the employment relationship.
Planning a staff appraisal
Staff appraisals should be planned on a regular basis, ensuring they are in line with company requirements. In order to carry out a staff appraisal that is productive and effective, managers should be carrying out some preparatory work in advance.
This would usually include reviewing the outcome of the employee’s last appraisal or review; making sure the agreed objectives are understood so these can be discussed, and talking to other members of staff. For example, if the employee has a direct supervisor or manager who is lower than the person holding the review, then their views also need to be sought.
It is good practice to also provide the employee with a copy of their previous appraisal documentation in advance so they are aware of what was agreed and discussed at their last review.
Appraisals are essentially based on the employee’s job role, job description, targets, key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives specific to their role. The typical basic structure of an appraisal meeting is to review performance over a specific period, discuss positives, concerns or issues and then agree objectives and targets for the next review period.
Some companies may have specific business or industry specific discussions that they include in an appraisal, and additional matters to discuss could be regarding salary, absences, holidays and general comments or observations.
Carry out a staff appraisal
During the meeting, the employer should be making notes of what is being discussed and any future agreements.
Most businesses use a standard appraisal form but this is not necessarily required so long as the notes contains an accurate description of what was said. The notes should be written up in to an appraisal document which is then given to the employee so they can review and then sign and date it.
This is a crucial step as it will provide evidence that the employee is aware of what they have agreed so, in circumstances where the employer is taking action on the back of the appraisal, the employee cannot complain that they were unaware of what was agreed.
Introducing a staff appraisal scheme
Businesses that don’t have an appraisal scheme in place should introduce one.
When planning the scheme, it is important to decide how often the appraisals need to take place, who will carry the appraisals out and any types of forms or appraisal reports required.
There are also different techniques of how to carry out a staff appraisal. Some may be carried out on a “good”, “very good”, “outstanding” basis while others may work on a numerical one to five scale, with the numbers correlating to a specific description or objective.
It is up to the business owner what sort of system they put in place, but, it does need to be transparent and communicated to employees at the introduction stage so they know what is required of them under the scheme.
Training employees to carry out a staff appraisal
Business owners should also consider providing training to those who will potentially carry out a staff appraisal, whether this is a direct line manager or a more senior manager. Some managers may not have carried out appraisals before or the form or appraisal procedure might be specific to the business.
For staff appraisals to be effective for employees, the person carrying them out needs to know the process, understand what is expected of the employee and be aware of how to fill in any resulting documentation.
Alan Price is head of employment law and HR at Peninsula HR.
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